Welcome back – hopefully, by now, you’ve all watched Saturday night’s game. In the interest of keeping secrets of scores, stats, and whichever for everyone who couldn’t make the game, I decided to delay my article until now so as to not inadvertently spoil anything for those of you who couldn’t attend the game or hear it on the radio.
With that said, let’s get started.
I really liked what I saw with DC George Edwards’ use of Donte Whitner during this game. Not so much (read : not at all) how Donte played, but how he was utilized. He was moreso, against the Bengals’ starters, used as a roaming ballhawk. His zone was wherever the ball was. Basically playing the middle of the field and moving to the action. He can’t tackle for anything in the world, but he’s a better zone-headhunter than he is a cover man. Now, if the kid could stop trash talking after every single play and learn how to bring another man to the turf, we’d be in business.
The starting offensive line is really starting to look good. It’s obvious that Demetrius Bell is the weakest link, but with the quick – movement of the offense now (more three-step-drops), these guys are gelling and making it work. Hopefully, everyone can stay healthy so we can keep our offense moving in 2010.
CJ Spiller did have a solid final few carries, but his first three truly worry me. He is quick to bump any play outside, always looking for the big gain rather than taking the provided hole or cutting in for a few yards. Three carries for -16 yards to start a game is horrible, no matter who you are. Decision making has to improve for him, but there is plenty of promise when his quick-thinking pays off, as the two touchdowns he provided show.
James Hardy will not make this team. He started things off with a decent grab then showed his true colors, dropping a handful of passes and running awful routes. If they keep him on, I’d be absolutely surprised and it would be an absolute disservice to the guys who worked themselves raw for this team in the offseason who don’t make the final roster.
No way around this, the special teams units are terrible. They have not been improving at all, and this is something will cost us games this year. Parrish does what he can, but McKelvin is not the same returner that he once was and we haven’t seen what Spiller can do yet. Roosevelt might stick if he had some blocking to showcase what he can do, but unfortunately, he likely will be a practice squad player because he hasn’t had any room to let his talents flourish.
Trent Edwards looks like a legitimate NFL quarterback and I am absolutely behind him as the starter who will be leading our team in 2010. He had a solid performance (13/17 153Y 1TD 0INT) and is commanding on the field. I know I’m getting to be a broken record with this, but he has gained his confidence back and is poised to break out in 2010, provided his line can keep him upright. Increasing his plays with three step drops and shotgun snaps, and giving him the ability to audible at the line greatly increases his effectiveness on the field. On that note, Fitzpatrick may have stayed ‘status-quo’ enough to keep his job and push Brohm off of the roster. It will definitely be interesting to see how this winds up.
I love Roscoe Parrish in the slot. He is explosive and a wonderful weapon for this offense to have. I’m excited for his potential as an offensive threat in 2010.
The starting defense looked terrible. They played into the third quarter and couldn’t cover anyone, couldn’t close a hole, couldn’t tackle… they were awful. It’s amazing that we didn’t let up more points. Keeping the Bengals 0-for-5 on third down conversions in the first half was definitely a plus, however.
David Nelson continues to impress, I think he makes the team as the fourth receiver (Evans, Johnson, Parrish, Nelson, Jackson, etc.) and will see decent playing time. He seems to be a diamond in the rough, as well as HB Joique Bell, and should develop well under the staff of ‘teachers’ that we have here in Buffalo.
Runningback Andre Anderson (#42, UDFA – Tulane) was impressive late in the game with six carries for 43 yards. Look for him to get a feature role in the second half against Detroit to see if it’s worth it to keep him on the practice squad.
Andra Davis is looking to be more and more of a smart pickup for this defense, as his solid tackling and nose for the ball, partnered with his leadership, help us dearly. He is, as a player, a few-year stop-gap, but he should do a great job in mentoring rookie Arthur Moats, who had a solid game for us last night. Moats is definitely improving and learning in this defense and his history as a pass-rusher is paying off with ILB blitzes and fakes.
Surprised to see Foschi barely saw the field, whereas Andrew George played about a quarter of the offensive snaps. Not much of note here since George was solely a blocker when he got in, but I don’t know that I saw JP out there once after warm-ups.
Overall, this game was a decent one (W 35-20) for the team, though they still have plenty to improve on. The playcalling we saw tonight was more of what we’ll see when the games count than anything we’ve seen thus far, which is promising. With the team mixing in all-out blitzes, exotic schemes on defense (Stroud at NT, ends split wide) and the unveiling of our version of the Wildcat, it looks like it’ll be a varied playbook, something we haven’t seen in a few years here in Buffalo. The defense (primarily vs the run) and special teams still need a lot of work, but the offense looks solid, and will only get better with the return of our top two runningbacks.
That’s it for me tonight – leave some questions or comments if you have anything for me and keep your eyes peeled for my predictions on the final roster as we prepare for Detroit (Thursday, 9/2 @ 6:30PM at Ford Field) to close out the pre-season. Enjoy your week and thanks for reading – ’til next time…